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Glamour, beauty, fame, models, catwalks and flashing lights. That is what most people think about, the moment they think about fashion designers. However, the truth is, there is a lot of work that goes on behind great designs and glamorous catwalks.

It is less flashing lights and more hard work and sleepless nights. Not glamorous at all. But nothing worth buying ever comes easy. The collections showcased on international runways around the world and photographed by fashion magazines the world over including this one, do not just materialize out of thin air. Those collections are the result of hard work and planning which unfortunately is not what appears on glossy magazine covers.

To create these pieces of art, designers make use of various equipment or gadgets. In case you want to become a fashion designer and have the passion and are willing to put in the hard work then here are a few gadgets you need to invest in to start rolling out your own runway worthy fashion collection.

  1. Industrial Sewing Machine

Just as the name suggests this is most definitely not the small sewing machine. This is the heavy duty version of sewing machines. This is the machine you get when you mean business, catwalk business. It is the machine you require when you want to sew things using tough material such as leather, jeans or canvas. The home sewing machine is too delicate to handle such. Although the industrial sewing machine is more expensive than the smaller version, it is a better investment in the long run if you want to run a serious designer company.

Price: Ranges from KES 110,830 – KES 15,000

Where: Amedo Kenya

  1. Mannequins or Dress forms

You may have seen them staring blindly at you through various shop windows or if you are a fan of Sci-Fi movies, you might have seen a few come to life on the small screen. Mannequins or dress forms as they are often referred to by fashion houses are human size dolls used for showcasing clothing as used by retail shops or fitting clothing as used by designers. They are important because mannequins help give a designer an idea of how the particular cloth being made will look on a human form. It is also very important especially in clothes with a draping design. It is easier to design a draping pattern on a human form than it is to do on a flat surface.

Price: KES 8,000

Where: Trendy Designs


  1. Serrated Tracing Wheel

This little gadget is used to transfer markings from a drawn design onto fabric. With this nifty little piece of equipment, you do not need tracing paper, chalk or markers. It is also important when marking slotted applications such as pleats or pockets.

Price: KES 600

Where: Amazon

  1. Pattern Paper

Unlike what most people imagine, designers do not just start stitching material together to create clothes. Just like a contractor needs the blue prints to a building before he sets about building it, so does a tailor. Before the material is even cut, a designer must make a paper template using the wearer’s measurements.

The pattern paper is what is used to create the paper template. The paper pattern is used to show margins, cutting lines, stitching lines, fold lines, curves, particulars such as front, back, sleeve, collar, cuffs and details such as button holes.

Where: Textbook Centre, Paper Shop

  1. Cutting Table

Yes, I know you would rather save that money and use your dining room table instead but look at it this way, if you want to be a designer with your own label, at some point you are going to have to move your little workshop to its own building. It would not be advisable to move the dining room table with your material. A cutting table is an important investment because an ideal cutting table is 3 feet wide, 6 feet long and 4 feet high. You will find that most dining room tables are a bit shorter than 4 feet which might eventually cause back problems in the long run. The consolation here is that an ideal cutting table comes with drawers for storing all your other sewing equipment.

Price: Differs because of import taxes

Where: Alibaba.com

  1. Form Curve ruler

Here is the truth, rulers are not only used in maths, if you cannot use a ruler then you might not be able to sew. Unlike an ordinary ruler, a form curve ruler is a curved ruler as the name suggests. It has numbers and markings like an ordinary ruler but unlike an ordinary ruler, you can use this particular ruler to measure arm holes and other curves in the patterns you are drawing. Measurements are as important to any design as the material is. This is the one gadget you must have.

Price: KSh. 2,000

Where: Amazon


  • Scissors (The large ones)
  • Tape Measure
  • Pins and needles, thread
  • Pin cushion
  • Thimble
  • Iron box

Armed with these few items you are one step closer to becoming a world renowned fashion designer.